Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pool Time is Here and I'm Not Backing Down

This summer marks a major pool milestone for us.

We are officially out of the baby pool.

At our pool, any kid in a swim diaper is confined to the baby pool only. Anyone can go into that gated area and splash around in the wading pool where the water toys are, but if you have the telltale layer on your backside, you are confined there. We joke that it's "Mommy Jail". It's fenced, it's separated, and there's no early release. Your grown up friends can come visit you, but otherwise you're holding conversations over the fence.

Last summer was especially tricky because most of Madison's friends were the baby of their family...and they were out of confinement. The "big pool" was the place to be, with the lounge chairs and the tiki bar and the lifeguard supervision. Sure, the kids might run back to the baby pool for some wading, but Madison didn't want to stay there and I couldn't leave with Reagan. Trust me. I tried. I was caught EVERY time letting my swim diapered toddler hang out near the steps and was forced to do the walk of shame back to solitary. So Madison was at the mercy of other parents who would help me split my focus.

But this summer...we're free! Lounge chairs, here I come.

Wait. You're allowed in the big pool now. Why are we back here?

OK, as of this weekend, Reagan still preferred to spend her time in the wading pool. But I didn't have to set up camp there, and she was free to come and go. So I'm still counting it as a win.

But with that win comes a battle. If Reagan is going to have pool freedom, she needs to pay the price. And that price? Swim lessons.

I hold firm on swim lessons. You don't have to like them, you don't have to join swim team or pass a life guard certification test, but you do need to learn.  We are at the pool all summer long, and even with lifeguards available, learning to be safe and comfortable around water is not something I'm willing to negotiate. Once you're in the big pool, you're learning how to navigate it.

The swim coach was there this weekend, and he was chatting with all the kids about summer lessons. Madison was forced, through tears at first, to complete lessons every summer since we started going to the pool, starting from when she was just turning two. Now, at nearly five, she's excited and happy, and I don't worry about her as much. She has more confidence around the water, but she also knows what she can't do and she is open to learning and trusting her teacher.

Reagan...well, last summer I backed down. She screamed and cried and fought through two lessons last summer before the coach and I decided to give in. She was still confined to the baby pool, she was still two, and it was bordering on traumatic for everyone involved. I didn't like that we bailed, but I reasoned that Reagan was a young two, different than Madison. She still wasn't speaking much and probably felt very concerned that she couldn't really make her fears known. She was confined to the baby pool, and because she was not even interested in potty training, I reasoned that we had some time.

But this summer, I am not backing down. If she has the freedom to enjoy all parts of the pool complex, she takes lessons and learns to be comfortable in the water. Not an activity you get to opt out of. And judging from how this weekend started, I'm in for an epic battle of wills against a truly masterful opponent.

The coach tried to chat with her about lessons, and she shut him down. I will not swim with you. I will not go in the big pool. I will not wear my floaty. I will not go in with Mommy. I will NOT LEARN TO SWIM!

We got her in her floaty for about three minutes before she insisted on taking it off.
We've got about three weeks to get her warmed up to the idea, because this summer, I'm not negotiating and it looks like the battle will be a big one. Reagan is not a kid who responds well to deal making and ultimatums - if you tell her she can't go to the pool unless she takes lessons, she will dig in her heels and not go to the pool. Ever. And that means that the family can't go, which isn't going to happen. Bribery doesn't work with her either - the promise of a snack bar visit for a frosty treat at the end of her lesson isn't worth it to her. And as anyone who has ever tried to reason with a three year old knows, reasoning with a three year old isn't something that's terribly effective. It's going to be an uphill battle.

I'm thankful we have a patient, kind, excellent teacher who will work beautifully with kids no matter how hard they fight. I'm thankful that we have a nice pool close by. I'm thankful that we can go all summer.

My primary goal is simple - get her in the water, with her teacher, and have her follow at least some of his instruction. My secondary goal is to do it without screaming.

Any suggestions?  photo mediumsignature_zpsbff01a79.png
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